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Research on vaccine certificates finds positive outcomes

It’s Wednesday and so some short discussion and news then some jazz, the latter being the highlight. I read an interesting research paper yesterday from the – Conseil d’Analyse Économique (CAE) – which is an French-based organisation that brings together professional researchers “to enlighten the government’s choices in economic matters by comparing points of view and analyses”. It operates under the authority of the French Prime Minister. Its latest public report under its – Focus – series – The effect of COVID certificates on vaccine uptake, health outcomes, and the economy (published January 18, 2022) – presents some very interesting empirical results pertaining to the impact that the enforcement of Covid vaccination certificates has had on the rate of vaccination uptake, on health outcomes (short-term) and on GDP growth rates. I consider the research (methods etc) to be credible and the results are in accord with an array of evidence that other researchers are coming up with.

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    The European conservatives are organising while the progressives fight among themselves

    I read an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) yesterday (January 16, 2022) – Ich hoffe auf Deutschland – which made me laugh really. Comedy in absurdity. It also told me that the forces in Europe are firmly against any major progressive change. I considered this issue last week in this blog post – German threats of exit rely on the ignorance of others reinforced by Europhile progressives (January 11, 2022). I know progressives thought that the invocation of the Stability and Growth Pact escape clause in 2020 as the pandemic took hold might have been a sign that things were changing in Europe after years of austerity bias. But as the days pass, more evidence mounts that there is a status quo that is being managed and it won’t be long before we see the familiar claims about excessive deficits and debt. The latest input comes from Austria’s new Finance Minister, Magnus Brunner who was reported in the FAZ article as saying that he rejects a debt union outright and hopes to win over the new German government to ensure they hold the fort. With the new German finance minister also of a similar if not more extreme persuasion about sound finance, I do not think he will have much trouble convincing the German. He also signalled that he wants to use a coalition – the “Staaten der Verantwortung“ (States of Responsibility) to maintain discipline in the Eurozone. The short period of fiscal flexibility is coming to an end. Meanwhile, with the French Presidential election approaching, the Left is fighting among itself for peanuts. The old guard is not about to fall yet.

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      More evidence that the current inflation is ephemeral

      When I am asked whether I still consider the recent bout of inflation to be transitory, I say that transitory means as long as the pandemic disrupts the balance between supply and demand. Note: demand. I have been getting lots of E-mails telling me that Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is a fraud because of the inflation spike and our denial of the demand (spending) involvement. Apparently, the data shows that large fiscal deficits and central bank bond-buying programs are always inflationary. Good try. I last provided data and analysis of this issue in this blog post – Central banks are resisting the inflation panic hype from the financial markets – and we are better off as a result (December 13, 2021) – where I made it clear that the spikes are a unique coincidence between abnormal, pandemic-related demand and supply patterns. That couldn’t be clearer. And when that sort of imbalance occurs, with the addition of cartel-type price gouging (which has nothing to do with fiscal or monetary policy settings) then MMT predicts a nation will encounter inflationary pressures. The idea that the economy is defined by periods below full capacity when there will be no inflation and beyond full capacity when there will be inflation is not part of the MMT body of knowledge. It is more complicated than that dichotomy which we address in our textbook – Macroeconomics. Supporting this view, is a recent ECB research paper, which uses fairly advanced econometric techniques to decompose one measure of inflationary expectations in a component that reflects short-term risk and another that reflects longer term inflationary expectations. They find the former is driving the current inflation trajectory while the latter is largely stable. That means, in English, that the current inflation is likely to be of an ephemeral nature driven by how long the pandemic interrupts supply chains.

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        The Weekend Quiz – January 15-16, 2022 – answers and discussion

        Here are the answers with discussion for this Weekend’s Quiz. The information provided should help you work out why you missed a question or three! If you haven’t already done the Quiz from yesterday then have a go at it before you read the answers. I hope this helps you develop an understanding of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and its application to macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.

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          The Weekend Quiz – January 15-16, 2022

          Welcome to The Weekend Quiz. The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention or not to the blog posts that I post. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.

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            When ABC journalists mislead the public and spread fiction

            There is a difference between a journalist reporting news about economics and money and a journalist writing an opinion piece. In the first instance, the responsibility of the journalist is to ensure they cover the topic in a balanced way, seeking input from all viewpoints if the topic is controversial, as most topics in economics are. Too often journalists in this situation allow themselves to be used as mouthpieces for specific viewpoints, sometimes because they are coerced by editorial deadlines. Often they just uncritically summarise press releases put out by some group or another and represent the material as fact. In the second case, when a journalist is writing an analytical piece they are holding themselves out as experts. Then they better get it right. Usually, when they are writing about macroeconomics they do not get it right because they merely rehearse mainstream thinking, which most people by now should realise is off the mark. A case in point was a recent Op Ed (represented as analysis) published by the economics reporter at the ABC (January 10, 2022) – How the banks may profit from the taxpayer as COVID quantitative easing winds down. It is full of errors that journalists make when they don’t exactly understand the material they are dealing with. This should have been worked out during the GFC, when these issues arose in the general media. The fact that the same errors are being made more than a decade later doesn’t suggest any learning has taken place.

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              Why are the progressive left mixing with the dark right on Covid?

              It’s Wednesday and I have been digging a bit into what appears to be a growing coalition opposing lockdowns, mask wearing, vaccine rules, and vaccinations in general. The claims are that none of these things work and that the economy is better off without them. I am not writing today about these matters (I have in the past) but rather about the nature of these coalitions. One of the things that has held back progressive causes in the past is the tendency of social democratic type interests to adopt the mainstream macroeconomics, which not only limits what they can do but exposes them to accusations that the government will run out of money and cause inflation if they have ambitious programs. The pattern of progressive interests aligning with non-progressive voices is thus not new. I am seeing it again in the context of the public health debate, which, in part, explains why our world is in such a Covid-mess. It isn’t all bad today – there is some nice music to finish, being Wednesday.

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                German threats of exit rely on the ignorance of others reinforced by Europhile progressives

                I read a story in the German press – Der Euro auf dem Prüfstand (‘The euro on the test bench’, published January 7, 2022) – which reinforced my view that progressives who think the harsh austerity-bias of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) have vanished with the invocation of the ‘general escape clause’ within Article 126 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union when the pandemic arrived are off the mark. And when the same commentators/thinkers welcomed the end of the Merkel era and the dawning of the new German government, their assessment reflected that they are trapped within the TINA to the euro thought process. Well, economists with influence in Germany certainly don’t think that and one of the bosses of the Kiel Instituts für Weltwirtschaft (IfW) (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), which is a German research institute, has called for the topic of German exit from the EMU to be debated. He believes that this will put pressure on the other Member States (particularly the so-called “Achse Paris-Rom” (Paris-Rome axis) to abandon any thought of relaxing the economic and monetary rules and force the ECB to tighten monetary policy again. The iron gauntlet of ‘schwarze Null’ is still firmly gripping the European debate.

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                  US labour market cannot be healthy with rising numbers of sick people

                  Last Friday (January 7, 2022), the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their latest labour market data – Employment Situation Summary – December 2021 – which reported a total payroll employment rise of only 199,000 jobs in December and a 0.3 points decline in the official unemployment rate to 3.9 per cent, while participation was unchanged at 61.9 per cent. While the US labour market is still creating work – it is doing so at a declining rate and there are unequal patterns across the industrial sectors. The US labour market is still 3,572 thousand jobs short from where it was at the end of February 2020, which helps to explain why there are no fundamental wage pressures emerging. Any analyst who is claiming the US economy is close to full employment hasn’t looked at the data. The failure to introduce a renewed fiscal stimulus will definitely leave the economy worse off, especially with the renewed virus onslaught from Omicron.

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                    The Weekend Quiz – January 8-9, 2022 – answers and discussion

                    Here are the answers with discussion for this Weekend’s Quiz. The information provided should help you work out why you missed a question or three! If you haven’t already done the Quiz from yesterday then have a go at it before you read the answers. I hope this helps you develop an understanding of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and its application to macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.

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